MAERSK is embarking on a massive global re-organisation that will see two historic group brands disappear, greater consolidation of back-office services and, according to overseas reports, up to 27,000 jobs affected worldwide.

The Danish container giant announced overnight (1 September, European time) it would subsume the Safmarine and Damco identities, integrating the former’s Africa-centred shipping activities into the Maersk brand and moving the latter’s airfreight and Less than Container Load (LCL) supply chain products into the Maersk logistics and services portfolio.

Reefer-focused Hamburg Süd and South America-based Aliança will remain independent brands with differentiated service models, and Sealand – A Maersk Company will remain as a separate brand under A.P. Moller – Maersk, operating intra-regional and feeder services. However, regional and local functions such as pricing, finance and human resources will be combined.

Maersk says the transformation is aimed at creating “a more seamless experience across your supply chain”.

“With all our products and services under one roof, there will be fewer handovers, leading to more optimized delivery of our services and making your supply chain flow with increased efficiency and resilience. We are committed to bringing our collective expertise to you. Sharing best practices and capabilities as a single team will allow us to continue to develop products and services designed to help you stay ahead and in control,” the company said.

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For its part Hamburg Süd said it will optimize its organisational structure “to boost our customer proximity and deliver more effectively to customers”.

Rationalisation of Maersk and Hamburg Süd back-office functions, in particular, has long been expected but industry sources said employees were shocked by the size of the headcount reduction, reported by the UK’s The Loadstar to be up to 3,400 from just the Safmarine and Damco changes alone.

It is understood Australian and New Zealand staff will learn their fates on Friday. A multi-brand Regional Ocean Management team will set up. The changes are due to be implemented from 1 October, with the Safmarine and Damco names to disappear by year’s end.

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